Thanks to a partnership between Main Street and the City of Plant City, downtown will soon have an in-depth plan for its future.
Downtown Plant City will soon have an official revitalization plan, thanks to a partnership between Main Street and the City of Plant City.
For years, Main Street has wanted to hire a firm that specializes in Main Street design services. The hope was the company hired would help develop a strategic plan and in-depth analysis on downtown so the city will know how best to grow the area.
The group has partnered with the city to hire Community Design Solutions for $38,000, of which $19,000 will come from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency fund.
At the end of the study, the city will have a downtown plan full of various strategies, options and possibilities to improve the amenities offered in the downtown corridor.
“I’m excited to see what this whole thing brings back for our hometown,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “They come in and they look at downtown and they see things we may not see. How to use open space, where do you have opportunities that maybe we didn’t see. They can look at buildings like, there’s some buildings at MLK at Palmer, the old appliance store for example, they can look at that and say, ‘Here’s what this could be.’”
McDaniel said one of the things he liked about Community Design Solutions that they did in other cities was they come up with a “really great way to rehab and freshen up buildings, to make your downtown look better and even more vibrant and attractive” while using a conservative budget. Their prior work seemed to mesh perfectly with what Plant City has to offer and he said they’re looking forward to seeing the end result.
The Downtown Vision Plan will assess the local retail market in order to ascertain what retention and recruitment strategies would work best downtown and will also feature “design vignettes for a downtown site project that will serve as a strategic redevelopment initiative,” according to a news release.
Nick Thurston, president of Main Street, said it all began back in October when the organization held a Topics on Tap meeting and invited McDaniel to come out and talk about all of the things happening throughout Plant City. Part of his presentation focused heavily on the changes and needs downtown, and Thurston said it encouraged the group to spring into action.
In November, they held a meeting where they broke into a variety of workgroups and identified the core things they felt downtown Plant City needed to “turn the corner.”
“We talked about a park, modification to the alcohol ordinance, the mural ordinance and adding more residential to downtown,” Thurston said. “Then we immediately started working with the city on the alcohol ordinance and I think that did a lot in proving we are passionate about getting actual change accomplished.”
As the group moved into discussions about one day having a park downtown that would act as a destination and a focal point for the community, they started to run into more questions than they had answers to. Thurston said they realized no one on the committee or in Main Street was really qualified to definitively say where the right location to have a park would be that would have enough parking, be in a relatively close location to other areas downtown and yet would be perfectly poised for whatever the future held.
So they started to do some research and came across Community Design Solutions, whose professionals have a combined experience in more than 500 Main Street communities. Originally they just consulted the company to discuss vague community ideas. The more they talked, the more they realized they were the perfect fit to finally bring the long-awaited downtown plan into existence.
Main Street over the past year has truly blossomed. With a variety of successful fundraising events they reached all of the matching goals with the city and were well on their way to continuing to grow the program. Finally things were starting to look as though they could put their money where their mouth was and accomplishments for downtown revitalization were now merely a discussion of time, not whether they were in fact realistic.
“We felt like we could fund and do this on our own as an organization if we had to, but when we shared a presentation to McDaniel of what this company thought they could do, what they honestly felt they would be able to shed some light on for our downtown, the city really got behind us,” Thurston said. “We were coming hoping the city would support our efforts to go forward and really buy into this plan, but then they really showed us so much support and agreed to go in with us and make this happen.”
The firm will obtain input from both Main Street and the City of Plant City as well as from downtown stakeholders and other interested members of our community.
While there will be a lot of groundwork prior to the firm ever showing up in Plant City, Thurston said they’ll be on site September 10 through 12 to finalize their plan.
During that time, there will be opportunities for interested community members to get involved in the process and voice their opinions on the future of downtown.
What’s great about this project is the community will see rather immediate results.
By the end of the company’s trip to Plant City in September, there will be a plan in the hands of the city and Main Street.
“This plan is designed to be executed in a three to five-year period,” Thurston said. “I think that’s exciting because we’re all ready to kind of see this stuff kind of come together. I think that’s relevant that the timeline is pretty tight. I think people can get excited about that.”